So let's jump in, to the car. My first trip outside of the USA was to nearby Canada. I was 9 years old. We lived in upstate New York so the drive wasn't that bad, considering that my family often took road trips to the beach in Virginia.
My younger brothers and I (ages 9, 6, and 3) piled into the backseat and waiting for my dad to finally be ready. After checking the house for the 20th time, we were off. I remember being so excited to see Niagara Falls and watching out the window of our brown Toyota as we flew by trees, entered the grey highway, and finally approached border control.
This was pre-9/11, and I guess the rules for border crossings were looser at that time. I'm fairly sure my parents didn't have passports. Us children certainly didn't. So we pulled up to the border control officer's roadside toll box. It seemed to me like we were just stopping to pay a toll, but then it took longer than usual.
The officer seemed to be telling my mom that she couldn't take us, her children, across the border without showing our birth certificates. Whether my parents hadn't researched this or it was a new rule, I'll never know. But we were halted there at the US-Canada border as my mom and dad tried to convince the officer, and soon his boss, that the 3 of us were not being smuggled out of the country.
I was bored with the wait so I fidgeted with my crank-down window handle, and ended up sticking pennies into a hole by the door handle. That door always jingled with cash afterward. My brothers must have been asleep because I don't remember any ruckus from them. I didn't know why we had been held up until my parents started talking about it back in the car later on.
After what felt like hours, but was probably more like 30 minutes, my parents signed some documentation and the border staff let us through. Perhaps it says something about my travel patience personality that my first experience involved waiting at a border.
So we got through and went to Canada. That weekend we stood by the massive Niagara Falls from the Canadian side and took photos. I'll save myself some humiliation by not posting them because 9-year-old me was not fashion-forward.
That was my first trip "abroad". I don't remember if I felt the travel bug then, but I do remember being fascinated that there were hotels and interesting things to see that I wouldn't have seen if we hadn't taken the trip.
So that was my start. And I'd like to stay that I've been traveling ever since, but it wasn't until 2005 that I got my next chance. But that's another travel story. See you later!